3) Focus on your goals and know your purpose – Successful athletes often have passion and set out very specific goals they want to achieve. The ‘why’ they are doing and what they are doing is essential in achieving success. Goals can be small. They can be daily targets the athletes want to achieve. Achievement of such daily goals also means newer and bigger goals can be further set forth. Celebrating milestones as they are achieved is part of the journey of growth. As Nelson Mandela once said,
“Remember to celebrate milestones as you prepare for the life ahead.”
When athletes have purpose and passion, it will motivate them to pull through difficult times or strenuous training sessions. Nadal, on winning his 1000th match in Paris in November 2020, Nadal said,
“I faced issues in terms of injuries during different parts of my career but I always hold the passion and the love to keep doing what I do. That is to play tennis.”
4) Resilience and Fighting Spirit – Do athletes have a ‘win at all cost attitude?’ While some athletes are able to push through difficulty, for others it can be more of a struggle. Resilience is about the ability to spring back from hardship or adversity and the use of personal qualities and strengths to survive the pressure. What is critical here is action. To keep doing whatever it takes to achieve the end goal. Nadal at the Australian Open finals had to work exceedingly hard for every point in the game and observers wondered if this kind of playing was sustainable for 5 sets for this 35 year old. Well, he certainly showed them it was all possible with true resilience!
To build and strengthen resilience, athletes have to develop a growth and optimistic mindset by being open to new experiences, opportunities, and techniques and learning specific coping strategies.
5) Humility – Humble athletes are the total package of sportsmanship, teamwork, confidence and respect for others.
Humility, as a virtue in relation to sports, is two-pronged. First, humility in accepting and acknowledging that athletes have limits. Second, humility in acknowledging the strength they receive through backing and encouragement from their support group, such as the coaches, officials, family and friends, and many others, for their success.
Read More: The Importance of Humility in Leadership
Becoming humble takes effort and intent. It’s a learned skill. Athletes with humility and grace are always confident with themselves, self-reflect on their capability, open to criticisms and acknowledge that they have weaknesses. A humble athlete does not ride on a wave of emotions, either after winning or losing a game. Being humble earns respect not only from their supporters, teammates, coaches but also their rivals.
Nadal, although being the sole owner of the new men’s record, was quick to play down this achievement. He was quoted saying that “I feel lucky to achieve one more very special thing in my tennis career,” he said. “I don’t care much if I am the one or not the one or the best of the history, not the best of the history. Honestly today I don’t care much. For me it’s about enjoying nights like today.” In his years playing tennis, he said that his hunger to keep playing tennis kept him going despite facing challenges.
“I always had great help with great people around me and great family. Without them, of course, it would be impossible.”
As we forge ahead in 2022, athlete or not, let us be guided by these values displayed by Nadal who fought a herculean fight to emerge a champion. We ALL have it in us to BE a Nadal. I challenge you to master self-discipline and roar in the Year of the Tiger!
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